Win our “Essential Woodshop Value Pack”

The “Woodworking Daily” 3-year magazine subscription contest has ended, and today a new contest begins. Since it’s finally spring, we thought of a good idea that has to do with spring cleaning.

What are your best tips for shop clean-up and organization? Tell us in the comments section! We’ll read all the comments on Monday and choose the best or most helpful. The winner receives our shop organization collection, the “Essential Woodshop Value Pack” – a $66 prize!

PWshopmessyAs you can see in the picture (left) of Popular Woodworking’s shop, clean-up and organization is a challenge for everyone. In fact, having a perfectly clean shop is probably a sign that you aren’t doing much woodworking! But there’s no doubt that a certain level of shop organization and cleanliness will help you to be more productive.

Here are a few tips from our blog authors:

Matt Vanderlist on storage ideas

Diagrams for a typical garage shop layout

Mike Siemsen on sweeping (funny)

Bill Rainford on customizing your tool chest

Megan Fitzpatrick on hand saws in her tool chest

I hope that gets your ideas flowing! The deadline for leaving a comment below is Monday, April 7th. So do a little sweeping and organizing this weekend and let us know what you come up with.

Oh, and please read the official contest rules here: http://www.popularwoodworking.com/current-contest-rules

Dan Farnbach


UPDATE, 4/9/14: We’ve selected the winner for our contest, Kelly, who has shared this fabulous tip for keeping your shop organized!

Many thanks to everyone who entered with their amazingly good ideas. It was a very tough decision. Enjoy learning from each other, and keep adding your thoughts!

Maximize Vertical Wall Space & Eliminate Storage Carts
by community member Kelly

To fight cabin fever this winter and tackle shop clutter, I decided to maximize the vertical wall space above my workbench and eliminate numerous storage cabinets and shop carts accumulated over the years.

During a slow time at work in 2012 I built a 13-foot work bench for a new miter saw with 30-inch by 30-inch drawers of various depths. The new drawers did wonders for organizing my small tools, consumables, and pneumatic tools. It was not until this February that I got around to building upper cabinets to replace the slat board setup and an old storage cabinet.

My garage shop has 10-foot ceilings which I was not using to maximum advantage. I built 27-inch high by 10-inch deep cabinets for the most used items (glues, finishes, solvents, etc.) and installed them starting 12-inches above the workbench. Then I built 40-inch high by 18-inch deep cabinets to store less used items and installed them above the 10-inch deep cabinets. To minimize the dust accumulation, I added doors with acrylic panes so I could see the contents and avoid dust settling on everything. So far they are working great, not sure why I waited so long.

On the wall adjacent to my workbench where I stored my lumber I had two HTC lumber racks (4 uprights) installed 48-inch on centers which meant that any board less than 47-inches leaned against a wall somewhere or was piled on top of a cart or toolbox. I reconfigured my existing lumber racks and added two more lumber racks (4 uprights) and installed them 16-inch on center to store shorter boards and smaller plywood pieces. All the lumber racks were installed with the bottoms at 75-inches above the floor, which means using a ladder to access anything above the the bottom two rows. Below the lumber racks in a long line I installed 14-feet of Rockler clamp racks and 8-feet of 3-inch high metal peg boards. I used the metal peg boards to hang all my jigs and layout tools, which greatly reduced the cluttered around my machines.

I was able to eliminate four rolling carts and a huge 5-foot rolling aluminum toolbox from my shop. I now have plenty of floor space for work-in-progress without constantly moving cabinets. By eliminating all the clutter on the floor leaning against walls, I am able to keep the shop much cleaner too.

CATEGORIES
Woodworking Daily
Dan Farnbach

About Dan Farnbach

Dan apprenticed and worked in two professional shops during the years after college. But sweeping shop floors only goes so far toward learning woodworking. These days Dan is online editor for Popular Woodworking, and is learning new skills every day. He divides his time between Boston and Maine.

43 thoughts on “Win our “Essential Woodshop Value Pack”

  1. JimAspin2

    Spring Cleaning is best done by keeping
    short accounts for all matters messy,
    throughout all four seasons…
    Keep the wood chips depth shallow.
    Reorganize the tools before you start the next project.
    Do repairs before the pile contains four.
    Share your shop with your kids, grand kids, neighbors, guests…
    thus keeping high motivation for all projects cleaning.
    The longer you can make this list, the shorter the process becomes.

  2. freebird730@yahoo.com

    Generally clean up every couple days when I can’t find anything anymore or when done with each project. I have a very small shop that I am converting all the larger machinery to wheeled base to roll out of the way when not in use. Just bought a cyclone kit to add to my dust collector then to add some ducting instead of the 20 foot hose I am using now.

  3. sebrantley

    I along with four other retired law enforcement officers do volunteer work at our nonprofit little theater. We construct and dismantle sets for each play. We lessen our cleanup time by placing a twenty five gallon garbage can at the table saw and miter saw. When a cut off is made that is too short to reuse it immediately goes in the cut off barrel. If it is reusable it is placed on a three shelf rolling cart to easily take it to our storage area. We also use magnets on a long stick to pickup screws and nails. This saves time and keeps even older guys from having to bend over and pick up when we complete work each day.

  4. antiquescopes

    I figure cleaning my shops is no different than cleaning the garage, or anywhere else. I have a wood shop and a machine shop next to each other, so things seem to get disorganized a lot quicker. I usually gather things that go to different places in piles, then take them there and put them away. It is always surprising to see how much stiff gets toted from one shop to another. I keep my stock on racks on the wall. Then when I just can’t get it cleaned, as the old saying says, you are the only one attached to your stuff. Have your spouse or friend come over and help you “sort”; then you can help him.

  5. namvet

    Your shop would be a breeze to clean with suck an open area and the layout of your machinery. Since you already have installed a central dust collection system half your work is already done for you. You should get the hoses and hand held swivel attachment wand suggested by Danny H from Rockler’s. With that the floor, benches, machinery and light’s and fixtures will be done in no time. You could even do the walls and girders if you get a long enough extension.

    Now comes the tools. I’m sure they all had a place before they ended on the benches or where ever they have found their present home. Which leads me to the next contest. This contest should involve everyone that uses the shop, no exceptions. With all that wonderful wall space you have available around the shop, and since you need places to store all those hand tools,clamps, handheld power tools, plus whatever else it is you have that needs storage. You all get together and decide what cabinets must get built. Make a list, put the list in a wooden bowl and you each pick one out and have to build that needed cabinet for the shop. The cabinets must be of equal quality and build time. The prize will have to be selected by the group or maybe you can get one of the “SPONSORS” to donate a prize.
    When everyone is done. You will have project’s for the magazine and all the subscriber’s.
    That is how you get it clean and get more storage space.

  6. Maineiak

    I did hit the submit button too soon. the single most verticle storage that I use is like a poster rack at the store . I placed the swinging doors about 6 inches apart and try to store the tools on the doors by category so all out in the open and visable.

  7. Maineiak

    I do believe that any organization vertically is the way to go as mentioned in many responses. Keep all horizontal surfaces clear. (these areas do nothing but pile up until you reach the rafters and collect sawdust)
    This might sound way to simple, but unlikely or impossible to do. ” Clean up at the end of every session and a concerted effort to put back all tools and fixtures at the end of the job. ” (which includes notes and special steps you took and what you would do to improve if you were to do it again or recommend to someone)

    Now if anyone could help me practice what I preach, that would be great.

  8. namvet

    Cleaning your shop would be easy with the wide open area and the layout of your machinery. You have central vac and getting the lengths of hose and the hand held swivel nozzle suggested by Danny H would take care of cleaning the entire floor and all the benches , plus machinery. After that getting all your tools organized should be another contest for everyone in the shop. With all the empty wall space available everyone should draw from a hat a different types of tool storage cabinets that are needed in the shop and each and everyone has to build that cabinet. Maybe the winner will be exempt from cleaning the shop for a whole month or whatever the group decides????? That way all your storage problems are solved and you now have projects for the magazine and all those who subscribe.

  9. dschlic1

    To clean up my shop, which is a two car garage I use a leaf blower. I usually only do this when I am ready to finish a project. I put on a dust mask and blow out the entire garage. I usually have to do this two or three times to get rid of all of the dust. I also pressure wash the garage door.

    For organization, all of the large tools are mounted on wheeled bases, or can be mounted on sawhorses. Again my work shop is a two car garage in which is parked two cars. A place for every thing and everything in its place. I do ot buy a tool without first planning how to store it

  10. Kelly

    Maximize Vertical Wall Space & Eliminate Storage Carts

    To fight cabin fever this winter and tackle shop clutter, I decided to maximize the vertical wall space above my workbench and eliminate numerous storage cabinets and shop carts accumulated over the years.

    During a slow time at work in 2012 I built a 13-foot work bench for a new miter saw with 30-inch by 30-inch drawers of various depths. The new drawers did wonders for organizing my small tools, consumables, and pneumatic tools. It was not until this February that I got around to building upper cabinets to replace the slat board setup and an old storage cabinet.

    My garage shop has 10-foot ceilings which I was not using to maximum advantage. I built 27-inch high by 10-inch deep cabinets for the most used items (glues, finishes, solvents, etc.) and installed them starting 12-inches above the workbench. Then I built 40-inch high by 18-inch deep cabinets to store less used items and installed them above the 10-inch deep cabinets. To minimize the dust accumulation, I added doors with acrylic panes so I could see the contents and avoid dust settling on everything. So far they are working great, not sure why I waited so long.

    On the wall adjacent to my workbench where I stored my lumber I had two HTC lumber racks (4 uprights) installed 48-inch on centers which meant that any board less than 47-inches leaned against a wall somewhere or was piled on top of a cart or toolbox. I reconfigured my existing lumber racks and added two more lumber racks (4 uprights) and installed them 16-inch on center to store shorter boards and smaller plywood pieces. All the lumber racks were installed with the bottoms at 75-inches above the floor, which means using a ladder to access anything above the the bottom two rows. Below the lumber racks in a long line I installed 14-feet of Rockler clamp racks and 8-feet of 3-inch high metal peg boards. I used the metal peg boards to hang all my jigs and layout tools, which greatly reduced the cluttered around my machines.

    I was able to eliminate four rolling carts and a huge 5-foot rolling aluminum toolbox from my shop. I now have plenty of floor space for work-in-progress without constantly moving cabinets. By eliminating all the clutter on the floor leaning against walls, I am able to keep the shop much cleaner too.

  11. Cellarat

    I do not have the big shop I once had so now I am making use of about 700 square feet of basement space. I used to put all my cut offs in bins or boxes before, but that took up precious floor space. I kept looking at the unused area under the basement stair well and decided to frame it in and make shelving in that area. As a result I have graduated end load depth from about 2 feet all the way to eight feet for storing those cutoffs or odd boards. This did not become as valuable as I thought until I put data on the ends of each cutoff specifying length and species. Also it helps to keep like species in the same general area. or you can add vertical separators.

  12. mappcs

    Best way to clean up your shop is stop saving all those little or medium sized pieces of wood. If you
    cant make a project out of them in 1 hr or less. Use for firewood or give to someone that has a fireplace.
    We ran our fireplace as much as possible(live in Florida) and I still have enough for next year. It has
    made a big difference.

  13. Tim

    I have an unfinished basement. I use up scraps of wood from 1 to 2 inches wide by 18 inches long by screwing them perpendicular to the rafters. I then store my clamps and longer pieces of lumber between the rafters. Wood types can all have their own slot. All the clamps are in order by length and out of the way. This method also works for fishing rods.

  14. papagun

    As I have an extremely small shop, every inch of space is considered. As I also have a ton of stuff, the process is going on all the time. I think the biggest improvement that I made was to get rid all the metal “splayed foot” stands for my standing power tools such as the band saw and table saw. They take up a lot of excess floor space and are useless for storage. I built plywood cabinets on locking casters with shelving and doors for each tool. I now have tools all at the same working height (when appropriate) and can store all their accessories, plus a bunch of other stuff as well, right at the tool. I can also modify them as I wish and hang misc. items on the exterior. In some of them, I have placed small vacuums for dust collection.

  15. Danny H.

    Through trial and error I believe I found the best hose/wand system for vacuuming a whole shop equipped with a whole shop vacuum setup. The regular 4″ black corrugated hose many suppliers carry fitted with a swiveling 4″ head attachment from Rockler, used along with Rockler’s or Peachtree’s floor vac wand. I tried Rockler’s very flexible 4 ” hose to be heavy and difficult to use. I also attach the hose to the swivel nozzle with one of those easy wire spring clamps.

  16. annabilly

    To properly spring clean, it is important to be neat and organized. It may take a few minutes extra but will save tons of time later.
    We clean after ourselves after every project. We sweep, put all tools back in their place, make sure we use our shopvac to pick up all dust etc.
    In the spring, we take out the smaller tools which are all kept in clear plastic boxes and after taking the tools out, we either wash out the boxes or just shop vac any dust etc.
    We move all the larger tools, saws etc and shop vac, sweep etc. We ensure that the table saws are free of any wood fragments and with a damp cloth clean all the larger tools.
    We then sort through any wood we have and keep only what we might use. This is stored on shelves in the garage, off the floor and neatly in piles on shelves.
    Smaller items like drill bits are put in clear plastic jars and stored on the workbench.
    The workbench is wiped down and vacuumed.
    We also spray the garage with bug repellent to ensure any spiders etc will be gone.
    All the doors and drawers of our work benches are cleaned out and dusted and wiped down.
    Rakes, shovels etc are on hooks on the garage wall, off of the floor and cleared so no one can get hurt.
    Being organized during the year keeps our spring cleaning at a minimum.

    .

  17. hammettt

    Cleanup and organization are two sides of the same coin and both are like dieting. Any diet will work if it’s one you will use, and if you are consistent with it. Consistency comes with training (habit). At first, organization and cleanup are hard to achieve, but once you establish the habits of being organized and clean, any system will work.

  18. FEHutchison

    To properly spring clean, follow these steps:
    1. Open all doors and windows
    2. Put hearing and dust protection on
    3. Fire up your leaf blower (if no leaf blower is available, the exhaust port of your shop vac will do)
    4. Start in the farthest corner and work your way to the doors – blowing dust and dirt outside.
    5. When complete, put he leaf blower away.
    6. Go outside and pick up any tools and materials blown outside that you want to keep.
    7. Shop is now clean enough.

    1. shopkingdom

      I’ll echo FEHutchison’s tips and add on…My 12X16 barn shaped shop is full of stuff – including dust built up over the winter-not including my 10×4 lumber storage shed. I pick a day that is not too breezy so dust is less likely to blow back in and follow steps 1-7 as outlined, but I re-vacuum afterwards, hitting fluorescent light fixtures, shelves, corners & nooks & crannies as best I can. I often have 3-4 projects going at the same time, so movement space is often limited. I would ultimately love a one car garage sized shop with straight 7-8 ft walls where I could better utilize storage & work space, but it still not bad for a “putter palace”.

      1. REFFI

        My space is so crowded that there is little space to physically clean. My two car garage is where everything is stored (including two motorcycles and over 400 board feet of Camphor Wood). All my projects happen in my driveway. Over the last semester in school, I built a medium sized wall cabinet with three drawers and two doors. One drawer is extra deep for router bits (stored vertically in a piece of Etha Foam). The other half of the cabinet holds my routers and bases. I built a two compartment box on casters for cutoffs (I don’t throw any hardwood pieces away, I soak them and use them for smoke on the barbeque.). My East wall is windowless and currently holds two cabinets. The space between them sill shortly have a swing out sheet goods rack and two clamp racks. There’ll be a future cabinet under my work bench. My two biggest problems are keeping clutter off horizontal surfaces (work bench and radial arm saw table. I will get them cleaned off real soon. All my current power tools are on wheels: RAS, router table, dust collector, and planer. As my stock of Camphor wood is reduced by future projects (blanket chest, headboard and Campaign Secretary), my plans are to add a jointer and one of those fold up contractor saws. I’d also like to add a “real” woodworking bench with appropriate vises as my current bench is currently just a flat surface with a machinist’s vise on one end.

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